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Series / Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

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Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is an Australian television drama series, first broadcast on The ABC in February 2012. The series is based on author Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher murder mystery novels and was created by Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries revolves around the personal and professional life of Phryne Fisher (played by Essie Davis), a glamorous private detective in 1920s Melbourne.

Three series were produced for television, with the third airing in 2015. A film adaptation, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, was released in February 2020.

A Distant Sequel spinoff set in The '60s and starring Phryne's long-lost niece has also been released, titled Ms. Fisher's Modern Murder Mysteries.

A Chinese Remake set in the Shanghai Bund, Miss S, began in 2020.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Phryne is as able to hold her own in a fight as Jack and Hugh.
  • Action Survivor: Dot is the least capable and most unwilling to cause harm in a fight, but she knows how to stay alive in a pinch thanks to her relationships with Hugh and Phryne.
  • Affectionate Nickname: An unusual case here in that Jack has managed to turn a formal address — "Miss Fisher" — into his own personal endearment for Phryne. Other people use it too, of course, but not with the clear intimacy and affection that Jack does.
  • Afterlife of Service: The Serial Killer Murdoch Foyle believes himself to be a reincarnated Pharaoh and his victims to be the "goddesses" who will escort him to his true throne in the afterlife.
  • Always Murder: The case might start out as locating a missing hat, but someone's going to die soon enough. Of course, this is to be expected; it's right there in the title of the show.
    • Lampshaded by Aunt Prudence:
      "Your mind always jumps to murder, have you noticed that? It's a very bad habit."
  • Amateur Sleuth: Miss Fisher, though she's quite good at what she does. She's also technically a Private Detective even though she's only actually hired to solve the case in a few episodes.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The crux of the conflict between Phryne and Jack in "Blood at the Wheel." He's unusually avoidant with her, snaps at her about her recklessness, and doesn't back her up when she's defending women's right to drive to an especially Politically Incorrect Villain of the week. Later we discover that he thought she was the car crash victim at the top of the episode and found the thought of losing her "unbearable."
  • Animal Assassin: In "Game, Set and Murder", the Victim of the Week is murdered by having a venomous spider placed in their shoe.
  • Animal Motifs: In "Blood and Money", Jack gifts Phryne with a Victorian enameled brooch of a swallow in flight. Swallows mate for life, and while they won't mate in captivity, no matter how far or fast they fly, they will always find their way home — an apt metaphor for the relationship between the two. Swallow jewelry was widely used to symbolise true love in the Victorian era and the First World War, meaning both were undoubtedly aware of the meaning behind the motif.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the first episode, when Phryne takes on the devout Catholic Dot as her maid, the latter is concerned what her priest will think about Miss Fisher's "guns, knives and... dancing." (Unless you take "dancing" as a delicate euphemism for unmarried sex, which Phryne had also recently engaged in with Sasha the Russian dancer.)
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: In "Murder and Mozzarella", we see the Victim of the Week drop dead after being choked, but it later turns out she actually died from having unknowingly eaten deathcap mushrooms earlier, which happened to suddenly kill her exactly while she was attacked. In real life, deathcaps cause the victim to be violently ill shortly after ingestion, and it can take days before death actually occurs.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The blackmailer from the Green Mill Murder episode. Who, just in case you didn't already hate him enough, also turns out to be a rapist.
    • Surprisingly, the little old Italian grandmother who's murdered at the beginning of "Murder and Mozzarella" turns out to be a tyrannical, conniving old harpy who contracted at least one murder herself.
    • In "Cocaine Blues", the murder victim, John Andrews, had raped one of Dot's friends and tried to rape Dot.
  • Aerith and Bob: Phryne and Jane.
  • Banana In The Tail Pipe: In "Blood at the Wheel", Phryne sabotages Jack's car by stuffing her stocking into the exhaust pipe.
  • Battle Butler: When "Mr. B" fights off an intruder to the Fisher household, we learn that he picked up some serious hand-to-hand skills while in the military. In later episodes, he displays a great deal of knowledge about firearms, shortly before showing a great deal of firearms in his personal possession. Phryne and the gang occasionally borrow from his arsenal.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: In "Unnatural Habits" a bedsheet ladder is planted to make it look like the murdered girl had escaped from the confinement cell through the window. Phryne sees through it because the knots used would not have held the girl's weight.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Phryne and Jack in series one; by series two they're well into Will They or Won't They? territory.
  • Berserk Button: Father O'Leary punches out a scientist who's an atheist and proud, and it causes much tension for the Hugh-Dottie romantic arc as the incident leaves him prejudiced against all things science until Hugh sets him straight that without God, there would be no science.
  • Beta Couple: Dot and Hugh take their time, but are still this to Phryne and Jack by way of being much more functional.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "Death on the Vine" Phryne and Dot can only watch helplessly as the murder victim (and all the attendant evidence) are carted off to the incinerator. But just as the truck starts rolling, Constable Collins and Detective Inspector Robinson pull up, blocking the truck's escape. Dot and Phryne smile on—demurely and smugly, respectively—as Jack announces he's taking over the case.
    Jack: I'm taking over the Voight case. [to Phryne] You alright?
    Phryne: [warmly] All the better for seeing you, Jack.
  • Big Damn Kiss: In "Death Do Us Part", Phryne and Jack finally get to have their first proper kiss.
  • Big Fancy House: Aunt Prudence's home is very grand. Phryne's is smaller but also quite elegant.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though the killer is caught, Phryne and Jack often unravel a Tangled Web of secrets, lies, and scandals among the various players in the process. It's therefore not at all unusual for an episode to end with the lives of everyone connected to the events destroyed or significantly upset.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Phryne Fisher's weapon is a gold-plated .38 snub-nose revolver.
  • Bound and Gagged: Dot, Aunt Prudence and Mr Butler are gagged and tied to chairs by a killer who is waiting in ambush for Phryne in "Death at the Grand".
  • The Boxing Episode: "Deadweight".
  • Break the Haughty: While no one can doubt Phryne's heroism, her head does tend to swell up at times; all too often, she flouts the requests of Jack and others to stay out of trouble in order to follow her instincts and/or cause a bit of mischief. When Phryne's father, the Baron, first appears in Season 2, his recklessness, dishonesty, and flippant disregard for boundaries infuriate her the same way her antics annoy everyone else. Notably, he's the only person she acknowledges as capable of outsmarting her.
  • Broken Pedestal: George Sanderson to Jack, in the second to last episode of the second season.
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: In "Blood & Money", Phryne grabs a mop and uses it to fend off a man who attacks her with a bayonet.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Covering this up provides a major part of the motivations for the murders in "Death & Hysteria".
  • Bullet Dancing: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe", the killer does this to Phryne; shooting at her feet in order to make her dance in keeping with his Twelve Days of Christmas theme.
  • Character Development: In the first few episodes, Aunt Prudence comes off as a stereotypical Grande Dame whose primary concern is her own social status, and who believes that raising money for charities fulfils her quota of good deeds to others. As the series goes on, however, we do see her softer side: she cares deeply for her mentally handicapped son Arthur and won't hear of sending him to a home; when one of her friends turns out to be an alcoholic, she puts her own life on hold to help her reintegrate into society; and when a delinquent orphan girl she's just met goes into labor in front of her, she goes full-on Mama Bear and helps her through the birth herself.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Phryne mentions that her gun only has one bullet left when threatening an intruder with it in "Raisins and Almonds". This turns out helpful when the murderer gets ahold of it and fires it before threatening Phryne.
    • The BSA motorcycle Phryne passes by during the opening of "The Blood of Juana the Mad".
  • Christmas in July Episode: "Murder Under the Mistletoe", which aired at Christmas, but in-universe wasn't actually set at Christmas. However, the characters are celebrating 'Christmas in July', an Australian tradition where Christmas-style celebrations are held during the southern hemisphere winter, which falls in the middle of the year.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jane, perhaps due to her child actress aging too fast (see Frozen in Time entry below). Presumably, in-universe she's back at her French boarding school.
  • Circus Episode: Phryne goes undercover as the target girl in a Knife-Throwing Act in a small travelling circus in "Blood and Circuses".
  • *Click* Hello: In "Unnatural Habits", Phryne is searching the ship and has just discovered the missing girls when she is interrupted by the click of an automatic being cocked behind her.
  • Closed Circle: "Murder Under the Mistletoe" takes place in an isolated chalet. A snowstorm leaves the chalet Snowed-In, with roads too icy to drive on, and engines of all the vehicles frozen. Cut Phone Lines complete the isolation.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Phryne can't even go on a ski vacation without stumbling over a dead body, and the investigating detective will always be Jack. (Granted, sometimes she arranges this part). Even the two episodes that at first appeared to avoid this had Phryne pull strings to get Jack assigned.
    • Lampshaded in a conversation between Jack and Hugh:
    Jack: Who was that?
    Hugh: Miss Fisher, sir. She's on holiday.
    Jack: Anyone dead yet?
    Hugh: Just one so far, sir.
    • In "Murder at Montparnasse" Bert happens to have witnessed the murder of an artist friend of Phryne's in Paris, a full decade before they would cross paths.
  • Cool Car: Loads of them! Phryne's Hispano-Suiza, Jack's '28 Graham-Paige, Bert & Cec's '29 Hudson, a '28 Alfa Romeo worth over a million, even the '16 Overland Amublance seen in a flashback.
  • Corrupt Church: Phryne visits a Magdalene laundry in "Unnatural Habits" and, true to history, it turns out to be an utterly tyrannical hell hole. Furthermore, it's eventually revealed that one of the officials of the laundry was involved in human trafficking, which is of course tied to the Body of the Week.
  • Costume Porn: Phryne has the most amazing clothes and accessories, but all the characters look pretty great. So great, in fact, that an exhibition of the show's costumes has been held at Melbourne's Rippon Lea estate (where most of the show's on-location shooting takes place) after season 2 (which traveled to Sydney) and season 3 (which will travel to Adelaide).
  • Counting Bullets: A variant appears in "Raisins and Almonds". Phryne knows it's safe to approach someone who'd stolen her gun because she knew the last rounds had been used.
  • Cringe Comedy: Shows up on occasion, especially in regards to Collins, but an especially good example in "Game, Set & Murder". A deadly spider is trapped in Phryne's room, and Phryne, who is terrified of spiders, asks Dot, Jack, and Hugh to remove it. The problem being that the spider is trapped under what Phryne delicately refers to as an "internal device."
  • Cut Phone Lines: The killer does this to isolate the Snowed-In chalet from the outside world in "Murder Under the Mistletoe".
  • Cut the Fuse: Phryne shoots a burning length of film that is being used as an improvised Powder Trail in "Framed for Murder". However, the burning film flips and lands on the piled celluloid, reigniting it.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: All the characters, the uniquely liberal Phryne included, are disturbed by the existence of an illegal abortion clinic in Melbourne. Justified for Phryne, given that he is the Back-Alley Doctor type without even the faintest pretense of professionalism.
  • Dirty Cop: In "Unnatural Habits" it's revealed that the new commissioner is complicit in the episode's human trafficking plot.
  • Dirty Harriet: Phryne goes undercover as a Spanish fan dancer at a gentleman's club in "Murder Most Scandalous".
  • Disconnected by Death: Happens in "Death Do us Part". Osman Efendi is on the phone to Phryne attempting to tell her the location of her father when the killer stabs him from behind.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Jack is quite fixated on Phryne's legs while attempting to do paperwork in "Game, Set and Murder".
    Jack: Could you... get off my desk, please?
    Phryne: Why?
    Jack: Just... remove yourself, Miss Fisher.
    Phryne: I'm quite comfortable, thank you.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Dead Man's Chest," one scene opens on a shot of Phryne's bedroom at night while we hear her laughing and breathily shushing Jack. Turns out they're actually just trying to sneak alcohol in a temperance household, although the scene contains their usual barrage of flirty banter.
  • Dramatic Irony: Some of the murders end up backfiring on the killers, and not just because they get caught. In the backstory of "Murder Under the Mistletoe", the killer arranged for miners to keep working in a fundamentally dangerous mine because he wanted the gold in it. The mine inevitably collapsed, and the miners sent up a kid who had gone with them to tell everyone the miners were still alive. The killer suffocates the kid and blows up the mine, killing the surviving miners. This results in the closure of the mine.
  • Drowning Pit: In "Death Defying Feats", Phryne is performing the 'The Miraculous Mermaid": a version of Houdini's water trap escape. The killer sabotages the act leaving Phryne trapped in a glass tank filled with water.
  • Engineered Public Confession: In "Dead Air", Phryne confronts a murderer in a radio studio. She switches on the microphone so that the killer's confession is broadcast live.
  • Ethical Slut: Phryne has extremely active sexual history, of which she is no way ashamed.
  • Evil Matriarch: The victim in "Murder and Mozzarella" is stereotypical old Italian patriarch of a "connected" family—only female.
  • Fabulous Middle-Aged Lady Investigates
    • Phryne's actual age is a bit vague - the series uses the same dates as the novels which would make her 28-29, but Essie Davis is 15 years older than that (despite often not looking it) and doesn't seem to portray Phryne as a woman in her 20s (mid-to-late 30s seems most likely).
  • Fake-Out Make-Out:
    • Happens between Phryne and Jack in "Murder in Montparnasse", with a dash of Kiss of Distraction: Jack needs to distract her from looking at a murderer and thus blowing their cover.
    • Again in "Murder Most Scandalous" while she's undercover at a brothel. The two are making use of a private alcove to discuss the case when they're interrupted, prompting Phryne to leap into Jack's lap and shove his face against her chest.
      Phryne: That was close.
      Jack: It still is.
    • Constable Martin pulls this on Dot in "Death at the Grand", when the hotel manager catches them in her office.
  • Fake Twin Gambit: In "Death Defying Feats", an identical twin had murdered her sister years before. When this act seems to be on the verge of catching up with her, she poses as her sister and claims that the two of them had faked her death to allow her to escape an abusive husband.
  • Fanservice: Sometimes it feels as if the plot deliberately seeks out situations to put Phryne in increasingly more revealing costumes. This culminates in an episode where she goes undercover as a topless fan-dancer... and appears to relish every minute of it.
  • Fanservice Extra: Normally not, but in the first episode, "Cocaine Blues", there is a scene where Phryne and a friend are at a bathhouse together - and a completely naked woman walks past them in full view.
  • Film Noir: Between Miss Fisher's street smarts and loose-cannon attitude (not to mention Ethical Slut tendencies), and the way almost every investigation turns into some kind of wider conspiracy, the show is Film Noir (plus a bizarre mix of Soap Opera when focusing on the side characters) pushed through the filter of "murder of the week".
  • Frozen in Time: The first series was set in 1928.note  After three series, released over the course of four years, the show has made it all the way to... 1929. Considering the 1920s setting is a big part of the show's identity, it's understandable that they want to hold off the 1930s for as long as possible.
  • Gilligan Cut: "Death at Victoria Dock" has Jack telling Collins to have more initiative when it comes to Phryne butting into police work, telling him that they need to show her who wears the trousers in this relationship. Cut to a shot of Phryne descending her stairs wearing a pair of trousers and greeting the officers, who exchange a knowing look.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Phryne is basically a walking advertisement for '20s fashion. Her clothes are absolutely stupendous — perfectly tailored, absolutely gorgeous, and dead accurate to the years the show is set. Trousers, blouses, spectacular evening gowns — this show has it all.
  • Goth: A girl in the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe called Isobel wears black and fits the personality associated with them, moody and looks grimly at everything. She's fittingly an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette living in a gothic house, and her surname is even Mortimer (but don't call her that, it's her stepfather's).
  • Ground by Gears: In "Death by Miss Adventure", the Body of the Week is a factory worker mangled by the machinery. The investigation reveals that the safety equipment was added after the death, that the factory owner was running illegal nighttime shifts under a second set of accounts, and, ultimately, that the victim was pushed into the gears by her spurned lover, who decided that If I Can't Have You….......
  • Handbag of Hurt: Phryne uses her handbag to disarm and then knock down a killer in "Murder Under the Mistletoe".
  • Hand of Death: A gloved hand is shown drawing a knife and advancing on Osman Efendi in "Death Do Us Part". A spray of blood informs the viewer of his fate.
  • Hat Damage: Jack has his hat shot off his head in "Death on the Vine". So Phryne buys him a new one.
  • Held Gaze: Phryne and Jack, constantly. They manage to have sensually charged held gazes over dead bodies. This contributes heavily to the UST, naturally.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Phryne, all the time. Jack has mostly gotten used to it.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: In "The Blood of Juana the Mad", Jack and Phryne jump on a conveniently placed motorcycle (in a university quad) to chase a fleeing killer.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bert and Cec get very upset if something threatens their partnership.
  • High-Voltage Death:
    • In "Murder Under the Mistletoe", the first victim is electrocuted by Christmas lights that have been tampered with.
    • In "Death & Hysteria", the Victim of the Week is electrocuted when the killer tampers with her electric vibrator.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Phryne holds the great honor of employing a butler whose last name actually is "Butler".
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: In "Murder Most Scandalous", Phryne tells Jack that he can't let personal relationships get in the way of considering someone a suspect. She herself often sticks up for her friends and believes they are innocent even if Jack has perfectly justified reasons for suspecting them. Of course, her point is still completely valid.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: In "Murder & the Maiden", one the secrets Phryne uncovers on an RAAF base is a sexual relationship between two of the officers; one of whom is a Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: One of the key witnesses in "Deadweight", a boxing impresario hiding shady dealings in his ring, was shown to be feigning ignorance of the murder (which was related to the shady dealings) like so:
    Witness: Look, I don't know nothin' about no Abo kid dyin' in hospital.
    Phryne: I don't think anybody mentioned his being Aboriginal.
  • Instrument of Murder: In "The Green Mill Murder", the killer uses the mute in a cornet as a blowgun.
  • Insult Backfire: Don't try and match wits against Phryne in a snark-off, as the flirtatious American tennis player learns in "Game, Set, & Murder":
    Angela Lombard: (paraphrased, referring to her Zip Me Up moment with Jack earlier) He sure knows how to help a girl out of his dress, huh? Must be those strong, manly detective hands...
    Phryne: Oh, but it's so much better when he uses his teeth.
  • Iris Out: Used at the end of every episode, to match the time period of the show.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In "Murder and the Maiden", tension between the police and the military complicates the investigation of a murder on an RAAF base.
  • Kensington Gore:
    • Subverted in "Death at Victoria Dock" when Hugh asks if some red stuff on the bottom of a boot is blood and Jack shakes his head saying that it's "too red". It turns out to be paint.
    • Played straight in "Raisins and Almonds" - the killer has a bloody spot on his shirt from where Phryne had stabbed him in the shoulder in a previous encounter. Despite a day or two having gone by, the blood stain is still red.
  • Kid Has a Point: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe" everyone initially assumes the teenage character is just upset that her stepfather married her mother and acting out as a result, but her judgement of her stepfather turns out to be 100% accurate.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Phryne goes undercover as the target girl in a knife-throwing act in "Blood and Circuses".
  • Let's Duet: At the end of "Dead Air", Jack and Phryne share an incredibly flirty duet to "Let's Misbehave", with Jack playing the piano while both sing.
  • Lip-Lock Sun-Block: Hugh and Dot in "Ruddy Gore".
  • Loophole Abuse: In "Game, Set and Murder", a photo of Jack and Phryne together gets published in a tabloid, resulting in one of Jack's higher-ups forbidding him from getting help from a civilian in his investigation. So, rather than going against that order, he has Phryne deputized as a special investigator, removing her civilian status.
  • The Mafia: The Series 3 episode "Murder and Mozzarella" involves a family feud between Southern Italian families with connections to organised crime. This being Australia, where Sicilians were relatively thin on the ground, the relevant Italian gang is the Neapolitan Camorra rather than the Mafia, but all the classic Mafia tropes (family connections, blood feuds, smuggling, sharp suits, Catholicism, great food and wine) are played to the hilt.
  • Magic Poker Equation: In "Death at the Grand", Phryne sets out to retrieve an IOU her father gave to a Card Sharp. After neutralizing the means he was using to cheat, she proceeds to clean him out at seven card stud. In the final hand where they play for the IOU, the Card Sharp turns over his cards to reveal a straight. Phryne then turns over hers to reveal a full house.note 
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: You'd think Jack and Hugh were the only officers on staff at City South Police Station - or all of Melbourne or Victoria state, for that matter, given how they seem to be the officers to report to every crime, regardless of where in (or out of) the city it is. Granted, sometimes this is due to Phryne specifically pulling them onto a case, but hardly always.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Constantly.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In "Murder and the Maiden", a pair of RAAF officers are assumed to be homosexual because of all the time they spend together, and that they never show any interest in girls. In reality, one of them is actually a Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • Moment Killer: Far too many times to count, Jack and Phryne will be this close to kissing and/or otherwise confessing their feelings for each other before someone inevitably interrupts them.
  • Mugged for Disguise: When Eugene escapes from the hospital in "Death Do Us Part", he strangles the constable assigned to guard him and steals his uniform.
  • Murder by Cremation: This is how Murdoch Foyle successfully escapes from prison, and gets away scott-free. His foster mother requests to have him cremated, and then her body is switched for his.
  • Mood Whiplash: The murderer slips up behind the victim and strikes them down, or a bystander happens upon a dead body. Cue cheerful theme song!
  • Mystery Magnet: Wherever Phryne goes, murder is sure to follow. She lampshades this in "Murder Under the Mistletoe": "Mac, you know very well murder finds me". Jack lampshades it too: when informed Miss Fisher has gone on holiday, his immediate response is to ask, "Anyone dead yet?"
  • Never Suicide: Because it's Always Murder. Jack and Phryne try to entertain the idea in one episode, but the foul play is obvious even to viewers.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon:
    • In "Framed for Murder", the killer swaps the prop knife being used in a movie for the real knife used for taking stills. When the director demonstrates to the actress how he wants her to stab the leading man, he stabs himself in the heart.
    • In "Death-Defying Feats", the killer sabotages the prop guillotine being used in a magic act to turn it into a real one.
  • Odd Friendship: Bert, a blunt speaking working class Communist taxi driver, and Aunt Prudence, an upper-class Old Money society matron who puts great emphasis on behaving properly, have developed this by "Death and Hysteria", when he spends a fair part of the episode trying to help her come to terms with her son's death and ultimately succeeds where Phryne and a psychiatrist failed.
  • Off with Her Head!: In "Death Defying Feats", a magician's assistant is decapitated when the killer sabotages the prop guillotine being used in the act, turning it into a Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon.
  • Old, Dark House: Well, it's a chalet rather than a house, but otherwise the setting of "Murder Under the Mistletoe" fits the trope to a tee. Especially after the power goes out.
  • Omni Glot: There's barely a language of which Phryne doesn't know at least a smattering.
  • Opposites Attract: Phryne is a hedonistic flapper and something of a whirlwind, whereas Jack is a staid, stoic, upright police officer (albeit one with a snarky side). Nevertheless, they are obviously absolutely crazy about each other, even long before they're willing to admit it.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In "Death at the Grand", Aunt Prudence is held hostage and forced to call Phryne to lure her into a trap. Aunt Prudence says that she has decided to stay for lunch because Mr. Butler is making shepherd's pie and Phryne knows how much she loves it. Phryne immediately realises something is wrong as Aunt Prudence hates shepherd's pie.
  • Out with a Bang: In "Death & Hysteria", the Victim of the Week suffers a High-Voltage Death when the killer tampers with her vibrator.
  • Paparazzi: A gutter press photographer who is stalking a female tennis star plays a major role, and becomes a suspect for murder, in "Game, Set, and Murder". It is later revealed that he is being paid by her major rival to harass her and throw her off her game.
  • Phoney Call: In "Death on the Vine", Phryne makes a call to Jack and pretends to be talking to her mechanic so the people eavesdropping on her call won't know who she is really talking to.
  • Powder Trail: In "Framed for Murder", the murderer uses a long line of celluloid film like a powder trail to ignite a huge pile of unspooled film he is planning to use to burn his victim to death.
  • Public Execution: Discussed, especially in "The Green Mill Murder." If convicted of murder, a suspect under 1920's Australian law is fated to be hanged.
  • Rank Up: In "Game, Set and Murder", Hugh is promoted from constable to senior constable.
  • Redundant Rescue: Quite a few. Jack often rushes to save Phryne from the villain, only to show up moments after she's subdued him.
  • The Roaring '20s
  • Sauna of Death: In the very first episode, someone tries to kill Phryne and someone else by locking them in a sauna and turning up the heat.
  • Security Cling: In "Game, Set, and Murder", Jack tricks Phryne into thinking that a spider is on her shoulder. Her response is to shriek and reflexively fling herself into his arms.
  • Serial Killer: There have been a few, given the nature of the series. The Big Bad of the last few episodes of season 1 and the killer in "Murder Under the Mistletoe" stand out.
  • Serious Business:
    • Football in "Marked For Murder". Anyone who's ever lived in Melbourne can testify this is Truth in Television.
    • Bespoke fashion versus ready-to-wear in "Murder A La Mode". Madame Fleuri is pretty much Serious Business incarnate.
    • Tennis in "Game, Set and Murder." The killer even says a version of the trope in their Motive Rant.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: In "Blood and Circuses", Phryne reveals her circus costume to Jack in this way.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: In "Murder and the Maiden", Phryne arrives at the scene of the disturbance at the base perimeter wearing Group Captain Compton's leather flight coat and apparently nothing else.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Freddy in "Death Comes Knocking" is traumatized by his regiment's disastrous attempt to cross No Man's Land in which he is the only survivor. He tells Phryne that he feels like he can't stay still, his memory of that day is hazy and sometimes he can't taste tea without tasting blood.
  • Shoot the Rope: In "Framed for Murder", Phryne shoots the rope holding a sandbag, causing it to drop and extinguish a fire.
  • Shout-Out: Phryne's house number is 221B. (The books make clear that this choice was deliberate on Phryne's part.)
  • Sleuth Dates Cop: For Phryne and Jack it's more like Sleuth Befriends Cop And Unresolved Sexual Tension Ensues—at least for now. But their sidekicks Hugh and Dot are a straight example.
  • Slipping a Mickey:
    • Henry does this to Bert in "Death Do Us Part", drugging Bert's tea so he can escape from Phryne's house. To add insult to injury, he steals Bert's cab.
    • This is implied to have been done to Beatrice Mason in "The Blood of Juana the Mad", but luckily there is no indication that she was assaulted.
  • Snowed-In: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe" (whose plot is equal parts The Mousetrap and And Then There Were None), the chalet is snowed in, trapping all of the guests there with a murderer, and making it impossible for help to get in from the outside.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Given the time period, it's not entirely unexpected: a fair few police officers (even Jack, initially) insist that Phryne and Dot back away from police business, given that they're civilian women and in a lot of cases, have no idea that they're skilled private investigators. Naturally, the two don't listen, and end up being pivotal to solving the case.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: In "Murder and the Maiden", a nurse who has adopted the identity of an institutionalized RAAF officer in order to fly.
  • Symbolic Blood: In "Murder and Mozzarella", the killer spills a pot of tomato sauce on the floor while murdering the victim.
  • Sympathetic Murderer:
    • Ailsa in "Blood at the Wheel" raised Gerty Haynes's illegitimate daughter as her own for sixteen years, only for Gerty to declare that she intended to take Millie back because she planned to use her as a pawn in Gerty's family conflict, with no consideration at all for what Millie might want or what would be best for her.
    • Mrs. Big Arthur in "Deadweight." The victim was a vicious gang leader who beat her surrogate son Jimmy to death in a boxing match and was extorting money from Cora Derrimut by threatening her sons; Mrs. Big Arthur stabbed him in Cora's defense.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted when a gunman whom Jack knocks out in "Death at the Grand" is left in a life-threatening coma.
  • Technicolor Toxin: In "Death Do Us Part", the Victim of the Week is poisoned by having his eyedrops dosed with polonium. Phryne and Jack find the dropped eyedrop bottle at night because it is glowing blue.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe", a Theme Serial Killer starts picking off the guests and staff of a Snowed-In chalet one by one.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: In "Death at the Grand", Phryne's father gets in a duel with the man he thinks has murdered his girlfriend/accomplice.
  • Theme Serial Killer: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe", the murderer uses 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' as his theme.
  • Thriller on the Express: "Murder on the Ballarat Train" opens with Phyrne and Dot taking a journey on the Ballarat train that is interrupted by a murder. A large part of the episode is spent on the train before the action returns to Melbourne.
  • Throw the Book at Them: In "Raisins and Almonds", Phryne confronts an intruder in a bookstore. The intruder tips over a bookshelf and dumps a pile of books on her.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Phryne and Dot. Somewhat atypical in that Phryne herself is a lady through and through, but she's also way more assertive and physically capable.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Maiden Creek in "Death on the Vine". It's obvious from day one that the residents of the town are hiding something; the owner of the local hotel tries to claim that she's over-booked and can't provide the room Phryne reserved even though the register shows only one other booking, the local law enforcement is dead-set on preventing Phryne from investigating, and everyone seems strangely keen to wave off the suspicious death of her client as a heart attack and have the body cremated as soon as possible. Phryne and Jack eventually uncover the secret, which reaches back to 1918 and the death of the client's father, which was officially reported as a heart attack but was actually - to no one's surprise - also murder.
  • True Companions: The main characters all seem to be heading this way.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: In "Unnatural Habits", the new commissioner is a right Jerkass who also happens to be complicit in the episode's human trafficking plot.
  • Under the Mistletoe: At the end of "Murder Under the Mistletoe", Jane starts hanging a sprig of mistletoe over various pairs, encouraging them to kiss. First is Dot and Hugh, then Aunt Prudence and Bert, and finally Phryne and Jack.
  • Uptown Girl: Both played straight and not for Phryne and Jack; though Phryne is, by the time of the series, the daughter of a Baron to Jack's working-class (but respectable) Detective Inspector, the two grew up just a stone's throw away from each other in the poor Melbourne suburbs of Collingwood and Richmond, respectively. There's a fair few hints throughout the series that the reason Jack holds Phryne's attention in a way no one else can is because he sees and understands — and loves — the Collingwood girl she was as much as he does the flashy, sophisticated aristocrat she's become.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In "Blood at the Wheel", the wheel nuts on a female rally driver's car are loosened, causing the wheel to come off at high speed.
  • Villain Respect: In "Ruddy Gore", the murderer, Maurice Sheffield, gives Phryne a fleeting half smile and a small bow of acknowledgement before his attempted escape, after she figures out how he did it and how he was faking the ghost.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Used as a murder weapon in "Blood & Money". A piece of down found on the Victim of the Week becomes a vital clue.
  • Weighted Gloves: In "Deadweight", weighted gloves are used against a young boxer in a local boxing ring until Constable Hugh Collins steps in and tells them to ditch them.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: The Victim of the Week from "The Green Mill Murder" turns out to have been a blackmailer who had a string of people who wanted him dead for entirely understandable reasons.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Phryne Fisher is shown to be arachnophobic (a trait not shared by her literary version) in "Game, Set and Murder". Jack notes this is the first time he has seen a chink in her armour, and is later able to use this fear to his advantage.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Isobel in Murder Under the Mistletoe refuses to accept her stepfather, claiming he is this. Turns out she's right, he's killing people in their house one by one because he wanted to keep them away from his gold. This gold was aparently also worth over 20 lives as in 1911 he had a mine that collapsed around the miners, but they survived and managed to send out the child working there to get help. When the boy managed to reach the office the other bosses ran to get a doctor, but when the kid told him of the other men's survival he strangled the boy and threw a dynamite down the shaft to make them shut up when they sang to be rescued.
  • William Telling: In "Death at the Grand", Phryne's father shoots the hat off the man he was fighting a Ten Paces and Turn duel against as a way of proving his point.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Phryne and Jack. They're plainly attracted to each other from the word 'go', and after Jack's divorce, they spend the rest of the show spiraling closer and closer to each other, to the point where it seems more like a matter of when than a matter of if they'll end up together. (See also: this s3 promo.) The final episode has them share a passionate Official Kiss to denote the new Relationship Upgrade.
  • Working the Same Case: If Phryne and Jack start out investigating separate cases at the start of the episode, expect them to be interlinked.
    • "Murder at Montparnasse" starts off with two seemingly separate cases, Bert and Cec's friend being run down in a hit and run, and the recently reopened murder of an artist friend of Phyrne's from Paris. It turns out that Bert and two of his friends were witnesses to the former crime, and that the murderer has come to Australia to kill them to keep them from talking.
  • World War I: The events of the war affected many characters who were involved in it. Phryne was a nurse and saw many soldiers die under her care, and came back determined to live life to the fullest, sometimes to Stepford Smiler extents (as she puts it, "I haven't taken anything seriously since 1918."). Jack came back home changed, effectively destroying his marriage.
    • "Death Comes Knocking" is about war veteran Freddy Ashmead who is tormented about being the only one of his regiment who had survived and is haunted about whether or not he had killed his commanding officer Roland, Prudence's godson.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Despite mutual invitations to be on a First-Name Basis in the second episode and the fact that Phryne almost always calls him by his first name, Jack consistently addresses Phryne as "Miss Fisher" - unless she's upset and he's trying to comfort her, or she's in danger and he's panicking. Then it's "Phryne" without missing a beat.